What It Doesn’t Mean To Be Green.


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“It’s easy to go green!” goes the slogan, right? And in fact, it is quite easy to green up your lifestyle if you put your mind to it. There are those people who just change their light bulbs and then there are those people who choose to live off the grid, grow their own food, generate their own electricity, and run their cars on fast-food waste oil. Both groups of people are, in fact, going green, but at much different levels. I find myself towards the “more green” part of that spectrum, while working towards being a little more sustainable in terms of where my food comes from and keeping track of how much trash I send to the landfill. Everyone can always do more, I imagine, and hopefully everyone will continue to do so. However, for some, doing what they think is “right” is actually worse for the environment…and it may be no fault of their own.

I know you guys have seen my weekly “Greenwash Of The Week” articles, where I point out blatant greenwashing and/or companies trying to get you to buy the latest thing that is supposedly “green”. It seems that every day there are new products designed to be eco-friendly but that are completely useless and unnecessary. If you don’t remember, a while back I wrote about a $328 can-crusher from Williams-Sonoma. It was being marketed as environmentally friendly because it, well, crushed your cans before you took them to the recycling center, I guess. However, there are a few things wrong with buying an expensive piece of plastic and metal to do what your foot (if you even needed to) can do for free:

1. It is $328. I imagine you have other uses for your hard-earned money.
2. Where was it made? Probably China. Thus, it was probably made by people being paid nearly nothing, made out of toxic plastics,shipped here thousands of miles, trucked across the country, etc..
3. Most recycling centers (maybe all of them) don’t require you to crush cans before you drop them off. So all this does is empty your bank account, require tons of raw materials and carbon miles to manufacture and deliver, and make you look goofy.

Buying stuff you don’t need, just because the manufacturer told you it was “green”, does make you environmentally-friendly. In fact, it does just the opposite. The massive amounts of plastics, metals, paper, water, labor, and pollution to bring unnecessary products to market do way more harm than any tiny little amount of good they could possibly do. And besides, if you don’t need it, why waste your money on it? There are things that all of us do need at some point in our lives, such as things like soap, toilet paper, new computers, clothes, new cars, etc., and of course we are all going to continue to buy them. It’s buying what you need AND making the better choice when doing so that makes you “green”…not buying every gadget/toy/product under the sun that proclaims to be green but is anything but.

Think before you buy, do your homework on what you are buying, and buy what you think you need. Letting the charlatans sell you on “green” products that no one needs does more harm than good. In fact, I would venture to guess that even buying things you just plain old “want” for the heck of it is better than buying these other type of products proclaiming to save the world. At least the thing you want you might actually use all the time!

“Buying green” doesn’t always mean you are “being green”. Just something to think about…

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  1. That’s a good point! It’s worrying how easy it is for any old product to be marketed as environmentally friendly. Sometimes even purchasing products that really are greener than what you might already have is wasteful (if you already have it, will it benefit the environment to get a new model?). I agree that we have to be watchful of consumerism in general, and if we still have that urge to go out and spend, why not buy a service, like a massage? I could use one of those!

  2. It all boils down to education. I didn’t start eating organic till i knew what GM foods were and the horrible companies behind it.

    It’s a learning experience. You start off with cleaner detergents, then a few months down the line it’s personal care products, then a healthy mattress, and next thing you know you’re just a person who’s more aware and cares.

    Not knowing allows people to be careless. The more they know the more their conscious plays a part in their decision making.

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